West Midlands Police HQ could face the axe under plans for estates review

West Midlands Police headquarters could face closure under plans for a review of the force's controversial estates programme.

Conservative candidate for West Midlands PCC Jay Singh-Sohal
Conservative candidate for West Midlands PCC Jay Singh-Sohal

Jay Singh-Sohal, the Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), says if elected next month he will "look closely at the viability" of Lloyd House in Birmingham.

He suggested the site may be surplus to requirements with the new Integrated Control Suite due to open in Aston later this year, and vowed to shift focus to increasing police presence in areas away from Birmingham city centre.

The estates programme has seen around half of the region's police stations and bases shut down since 2012, with 22 going in the Black Country.

Tory MPs say the scheme has reduced the police presence in communities and made the public feel less safe, while Labour PCC David Jamieson says he has prioritised officer numbers ahead of "empty" buildings.

Mr Singh-Sohal questioned whether the estates programme had benefited residents outside Birmingham.

He said: "I will stop Labour’s police station closure policy to ensure we have a strong local police presence in our communities.

"I will now also look closely at the viability of having such a large headquarters in the centre of Birmingham at Lloyd House, given the new Integrated Control Suite less than two miles away in Aston coming online later this year, and the incumbent commissioner’s claims that our local neighbourhood bases are underused.

"With the extra government investment into policing, it’s time the whole of our region benefited with stronger local police presence – rather than just the centre of Birmingham.”

More than 1,000 police officers and staff are based at Lloyd House on Colmore Circus Queensway, which has been the force's HQ since 1974 and underwent a £34m renovation in 2014.

It is home to the emergency call centre and currently has the region's only 24-hour front desk.

Mr Singh-Sohal has also called for work to start on the delayed Black Country 'super station' in Dudley, and demanded the confirmation of plans for a number of stations – including Aldridge, Oldbury, Tipton and Wednesfield – which were due to close last year but did not because of the pandemic.

Mr Jamieson said he was "surprised" at the plans for Lloyd House. "This will further hamper policing across the West Midlands after a decade of cuts," he said.

He said crime fighting had been "seriously undermined" by Government cuts to his budget, and added: "The Chief Constable’s plans retain smaller local bases for officers to save £5m a year, protecting 100 officer posts.

"Police need modern facilities with the latest technology, but ultimately officers not empty buildings catch criminals."

West Bromwich West Shaun Bailey MP, a critic of police station closures since he was elected in 2019, said Mr Jamieson should "pay more attention to crime and lack of policing in my area".

"While we are seeing hundreds more police officers being recruited, the answer is not to base them in the centre of Birmingham but in vulnerable communities such as mine to tackle rising crime,” he added.

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi says he wants to work with the PCC and Dudley Council to ensure the Hall Street station gets built as soon as possible.

The estates programme was revised in 2018, with 24 sites earmarked to be offloaded by 2024 to save £5m.

A report said some police stations had occupancy rates of between 10 and 30 per cent and represented an "inefficient use of public money".

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News